So the recent talk of my favorite Tampa Bay outfielder (and bona-fide perrenial all-star of the future) being on the annual trading block, as well as all the speculation surrounding names like Tori Hunter and Andruw Jones) has got me thinking. What do we do with a surplus of outfielders that might prohibiting us from signing Gold Glove talents with significantly greater offensive prowess than our current lineup?
Examining the primary issues:
- Garret Anderson's future role: It is basically unthinkable that Scioscia let's a 10/5 guy and career Angel sit on the bench, and he's not getting released with that salary. He's made a stink before about not hitting so well when he isn't allowed in the field, and the DH spot will still have to be used to rest Vlad and shuffle playing time between the three OF slots. The simple fact is that despite being on the decline, he's been rewarded for his years of service with a generous contract to play out his remaining days in Anaheim. As crass as it may be to say so, perhpas the best place for him could be on the DL.
- Vlad Guerrero: (MVP! MVP!) There are only two issues concerning Vlad which color the trade/free agency outlook of the ANgels' future: The first is that as he ages (hopefully playing out the rest of his days in Anaheim) he will require that we maintain fluidity in the DH to let him rest, possibly eventually taking up the role full-time in the distant future. The second is that no matter how much running and scrappin' out the small ball runs Mike Scioscia can manufacture, Vlad will always be at a significant handicap without a legitimate power threat batting behind him. Without anybody who's goode for 25+ home runs a year, be prepared to watch smiling #27 lead the league in intentional walks until he retires.
- Gary Matthews Jr. and the Crucible Contract: 5 years, $50 million, NO TRADE that will carry him up to his 38th birthday. Whether you believe anybody is worth such a deal or not, Mr. Moreno paid the man his market value and we have a better-than-average CF who has looked better-than-average at the plate so far. He's a switch hitter who can bat anywhere in the lineup and be effective. I don't ask too much of the guy (just that he keep clear of a hint of any substance allegations), and if he can stay in this realm through a complete season we'll weather his contract.
- Reggie Willits: Back to the minors? For how long? I will admit to being on a bit of a bandwagon for the kid, but he's had 85 at-bats and is producing at the leadoff spot. He's doing everything right, going deep into counts virtually every time he's in the box, stealing 7 bases to date, and scoring 13 runs while batting .341 (not to mention he's been stranded on base more times than just about anyone in the league this year.) After separating himself quite a bit from apparent career reserve Tommy Murphy, is it possible that the 25year old could soon deserve a full-time roster spot in a Scioscia running game?
- Juan Rivera's ceiling: He's a second-half player. With increased PT last year, he barely made a dent in his numbers until after the all-star break. A pattern has seemingly emerged. With a question mark hanging over the recovery from a broken leg, I feel somewhat compelled to ask what, if any, Rivera's trade value might be. Anybody out there interested in a sometimes-power hitting Venezuelan with frosted tips in his hair?